LAUGHING WHILE CONDUCTING (THE ORCHESTRA)
An ongoing series of works based on and inspired by Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria (1615-17) and the novel Dirty Weekend by Helen Zahavi (1991), their title referencing the medieval Conductus, a discant chorus of voices, often singing of the lives of the saints.
I think of these works as akin to historical images of female saints, but rather than holding the means of martyrdom, these women laugh while wielding their weapons of choice, instruments in an orchestra of revenge. I imagine Artemisia Gentileschi as their conductor, directing with St Catherine's reed as her baton.
I’m always thinking about where and how women take up space and disrupt politeness and how they circumvent self-control, and in my work I increasingly explore what might happen were the disciplines of good conduct to fail. I have been researching historical examples of women engaging in violent and disruptive acts, and I've been reflecting on the prohibitions which are placed on women within society and the particular kind of opprobrium apportioned to women who 'misbehave'. I want to paint what happens when they do.